Censorship in the Digital Motherhood Space
It sucks to be silenced. I recently had a piece published by a well-known publication in the motherhood sphere. A few days later, without any warning, my writing was removed due to “too much backlash” against the piece. As a mother, to have a piece of writing about motherhood taken down by a media site aimed at (people who identify as) women and mothers – is painful and worse – disturbing.
I was censored, I believe, because readers were offended that I admitted to hiring "good looking" babysitters. The piece explored the mechanism by which that happens (i.e. the nature of using online websites feeds into a “swipe right” mentality), and also laid bare a side of myself that I’m not exactly proud of, but I’m not afraid to poke fun of either.
Since when do we wipe critical thinking out out of existence because we don’t like the yucky feelings and conversations they incite? Is the online Momiverse a place that’s only safe for beautiful pictures of baby nurseries, reviews of the latest baby carriers, and inspiring motherhood stories?
Have we reached a point where it is just easier to remove topics that that make people feel things, however unpleasant, than to allow them to engage in conversations around them? I would like to think that women are in a particularly important moment in time to handle fiery discourse, endure disagreement, and yes, be exposed to content that challenges us.
In a lot of wonderful and new ways, the motherhood space is becoming more open to topics that were once too shameful and off-limits to talk about. Now, we are beginning to break down the stigmas around things like the postpartum healing process, and postpartum health. We can talk more openly about once hush-hush words like vaginas, mastitis, and episiotomies, and the dark demons of postpartum depression. This is all great. But I think we can push ourselves even further.
We need to open ourselves up to all kinds of discourse about motherhood, and create spaces where it is safe to have these challenging conversations. Since there don’t seem many places for words like mine to live, I’m creating one right now. I’m calling it, “Not Safe For Mom Group”, and I will be featuring content that encourages women to talk about what we actually feel and what we are experiencing. The fact that there is a lack of places for people to engage around taboo topics in motherhood in this crowded motherhood space is surprising but it is also an opportunity.
These topics are only taboo because they haven’t been aired out yet. They’re trapped between the tables in bars and restaurants where women finally open up to one another – but only after the right amount of alcohol. They’re locked inside of the phones where the text messages volley back and forth between mom friends as they stand in their bathrooms late at night, pretending to brush their teeth.
Let’s have uncensored, honest, vulnerable conversations without judgment. Let’s disagree with each other, and help each other grow from the conversation without censoring each other.
We live in this insanely polished, Instaperfect version of motherhood world, where we put endless pressure on each other to be a certain way even though we each secretly know it is bullshit. We pretend to be OK with each other’s messiness – and in some cases we are getting better at doing so honestly but by and large we still force ourselves and each other to conform to a sanitized version of motherhood reality.
In that environment, and in that spirit, how can we ever learn, grow, and connect if we keep conforming to these bullshit rules. We need permission to say what we think, and learn together, because that’s the only way we will ever beat our own obstacles, personally, professionally, and collectively.
You might send this essay to your best friend, or tag a friend in the comments, and that is really great. That’s a good step forward. But maybe you can challenge yourself to start asking yourself some questions: Where do your vulnerabilities lie, and are you willing to expose them, just a little, to someone else? This is that space. I’ll be exploring some not often talked about topics in this whole motherhood scene we’re in together, and I hope you’ll find this as a haven and respite from the spaces and places that make you feel bad about not being a perfect woman/wife/mother.
Let’s talk! Let’s engage! Share your dumb view and I’ll share my dumb view and together maybe we can learn something from each other and grow.
Featured image: Photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, May 2004